A 'Borat' Writer's Plea to Millennials: Make Trump Fake Again (Guest Column)
This isn’t the time to register your silent protest, contends film and TV writer Peter Baynham in a (NSFW!) column. It’s maybe not even the time to be right. When the ship is threatening to sink, you don’t have a choice of lifeboats.
In the moments immediately after my father died in 2001, after a long fight with cancer, I sat beside him, ready to be overwhelmed by the tsunami of grief that I had subconsciously rehearsed for seven years. That came, for sure. But first, a harder, colder, selfish thought slammed into my mind: Death is real! I’m going to f—ing die too! Yes, I suppose I’d had warning of this, through relatives, friends, celebrities and millions more in wars and famines, all who’d seemingly "died." But until my own silly dad took his last breath right in front of me, I realized I’d been treating death like a CG movie monster — convincing, disgusting but not really, truly real.
Which brings me to Donald J. Trump. Sorry to break this to you, but he’s real, too, and he's perilously close to being able to grab the world by the pussy.
“Of course, he’s real, you idiot," you mutter. Why, in this depressing, utterly addictive tornado of lies, insults and Anthony Weiner that passes for an election, would you waste time reading something you already know?
Thing is, I’m not sure you do know. Not in your heart. Yes, you’ve seen Trump’s abuse, his lies, his racism, his climate-change conspiracy theories, his vile impersonation of a disabled man. You know — I hope you know — that he fled a stage on Saturday night because his own supporters were assaulting a peaceful Republican protester, then got many other supporters to retweet that he’d been the victim of an assassination attempt. You know how despicable he is. Yet still I’m here, a crazed evangelist door-stepping your screen to tell you, brother or sister: Donald Trump is real! He is alive, has risen and unless you act quickly, we are all going to die for His sins! Gropezilla is stomping down the street, grabbing screaming women and squashing Mexicans; he’s heading for the city.
I’m not attacking you for your lack of faith. I was once an unbeliever, too, bouncing happily off the walls of my echo chamber, treating Trump as a sick but harmless joke. But then…
A quick recap of this shameful shit show: On June 23, the U.K. held a referendum on whether or not to leave the European Union. The choice seemed clear: Remain part of a modern, multicultural Europe, committed to cooperation, open trade and free movement of people — or take a rain-powered DeLorean back to a misty, mythical time of Toad in the Hole, London Bobbies and typhoid, before "that lot" came over to blow us up and take our jobs. Keep Calm and Poles Out.
To many, Brexit was a joke, especially all those smart, open-minded British millennials who’d spent their university gap years backpacking around Europe, probably having threesomes with French millennials, the bastards. The polls agreed; morons like UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage — a gurning Little Englander Wormtongue to Trump’s tiny-handed Saruman — were going to be left with cage-free European egg all over their faces.
Of course, that’s not what happened. The public, amped up by blatant lies about mass migration, voted to leave Europe by 51.9 percent to 48.1 percent. The morning news was grim indeed: Many Leavers expressed instant buyer’s remorse, looking like naughty children caught with chocolate all over their faces as they bleated, “I didn’t think we’d win! I just wanted to make a point!” Thousands, having cast their vote, belatedly Googled “What is the EU?” Others, happier with the outcome, took to the streets, attacking foreigners and belching happy racist bile into any phone camera pointed their way. A British radiologist of Pakistani parentage was asked by a patient, “Why are you still here?” Many others genuinely believed — I shit you not — that the "Leave" option literally meant foreigners must leave. Such mass idiocy hadn’t been seen on our shores since an angry mob in my own country of Wales attacked the home of a pediatrician, thinking that’s someone who has sex with children. What a big, horrible, burst-open sick bag of what-the-actual-f—ing-f— this was.
But truly heartbreaking were the news interviews with younger people, horrified at the result, yet shamefacedly admitting to not having voted at all. Those who stood to suffer the most from this travesty had done the least to try to stop it.
Ten years ago this week, a movie that I co-wrote, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, was released. In it, Sacha Baron Cohen exposed some of America's uglier, hidden attitudes on race, sex and anti-Semitism (and had a naked fight with a very large man). One big thing has changed in the intervening decade: Revolting views that at the time had to be drawn out by Borat are now shouted from the rooftops by a presidential candidate and his fans. Brexit is coming to a White House near you.
Maybe you’re wondering what business a Brit has telling you to vote, and whom for? First, I’m a U.S. citizen. Second, this will be everyone’s business if the hate-soaked Tic Tac clown gets his hands on the nuclear codes. And believe me, Brexit will seem like a small, quaintly racist dolls’ tea party in comparison. The attacks on foreigners we saw? Imagine that with guns, committed by "proud Americans" like the prick who was filmed shouting “Jew S-A!” at reporters at a Trump rally. At worst, Trump will be sending nuclear tweets at 3 a.m.; at best, he’ll be an unmitigated disaster. (See Ross Douthat’s excellent New York Times piece, "The Dangers of Donald Trump," for a master class in sober yet terrifying reporting of the upcoming apocalypse. If anyone’s been to Nov. 9, it’s him.) And unlike other disasters, both natural and manmade, Trump won’t be a single event. At least a crashing plane has the decency to stop crashing at some point; a ship stops sinking; even the meteor that struck Earth hundreds of millions years ago, having made its point, stopped wiping out the dinosaurs. But Trump will be the disaster that just keeps disasting. They say a week is a long time in politics; four years — four f—ing years — will be an eternity, assuming we live that long.* (*Nukes)
Okay, so here’s why I’m still here, still ranting on your doorstep. If you’re a millennial, only 46 percent of you voted in 2012. 46 percent. Not nearly enough.
Maybe you don’t feel part of the system. Or, having grown up in a world of culture on demand, you’re not satisfied with the two main choices you’re offered. You’re bewildered that you can’t mix and match the candidates’ flavors like at Yogurtland. Yes, you hate Trump, but Hillary doesn’t meet the high standards you’ve been raised to set for your life choices. Maybe you believe that not taking part in this broken political process is its own form of self-expression. You’re thinking of transferring your Bernie Sanders vote to the Libertarian idiot who couldn’t name a single world leader, whose name escapes me at the moment, or to Jill Stein, who can do nothing to save the planet. It’s disgusting that neither candidate was asked a single question about climate change in three debates; but only one of them has a policy on this, while the other tweeted that the whole idea was invented by China. And only one has Bernie on her side.
Maybe you’re a bit thrown by Trump. Yes, he seems pretty awful, but maybe it’s not the end of the world if he wins?* And all politicians lie, no? (*Nukes)
But Trump’s lies are different. They’re massive and stupid and complicated, yet they fit together beautifully, like bigoted Lego: There’s this whole giant elitist, crooked, Mexican, Black Lives Matter, Wall Street, George Soros globalistical thing, see, that won’t let you in, Mr. Angry White Man! Many watch horrified from outside the Trump rally, wondering how these people can’t see through the bullshit about rigged elections. But Trump’s lie that Twitter was burying his words? His most shared tweet that day. To Trump and his fans, truth has become irrelevant. His words — and the countless bogus "stories" whooshing along Facebook networks you or I don’t even know about but are Aunt Patricia in Florida’s main news source — are to truth what performance-enhancing drugs are to sports: a lovely rush of energy to the outrage gland.
Trump’s awfulness is his superpower. This is a man who, having been accused by multiple women of sexually assaulting them, says, “Nobody respects women more than I do," thus managing to both lie and brag in the same sentence. It’s impressive. Maybe his genius lies in the sheer number of terrible things he does; in committing such a dizzying blur of gaffes, he makes none. If only there were just one or two terrible qualities to focus on, rather than hundreds: He’s a lying racist! Or he’s a gropey tax avoider! A bullying misogynist! Any of those failings in isolation would have sunk a less appalling man, but Trump is the idiocy ninja.
And yet, for all the complexity of his nastiness, if Trump showed up in a movie screenplay, he’d be sent back for a rewrite. He’s a bigoted Darth Vader rip-off, a reverse Terminator, sent from the 1950s to destroy everyone. And maybe here’s another key to why you’re not nearly enough worried about this guy: He’s a bad guy, and we’ve been so saturated with the comic book version that when we get a real one, with actual powers, our brains turn him into a joke. He barks, at rallies broadcast to millions, that women who accuse him of sexual assault aren’t hot enough for him to grope, then denies saying it! We laugh, we shake our heads and imagine what if he actually got in? But of course he won’t…
The thing is, kind young friend, you haven’t been sucked into Trump’s hate storm. You’re not terrified of "that lot": the Latinos, the gays, the media, Rosie O’Donnell. Go to Uncle Gary’s Facebook page and read what he’s reading. Look at the murder in the eyes of Trump supporters, screaming as if Hillary Clinton just pulled off a puppy’s head and hid a load of emails in the neck hole: “Burn the witch! She deleted some stuff! I’m not sure what, maybe they were in her junk folder? You know, those ones that pretend to be from FedEx but they’re just trying to get your bank details? PUT HER IN THE CHAIR! FRY, BITCH!”
Trump’s people aren’t movie extras. They’re real, too: the men in “Hillary Is a Cunt” t-shirts, beside the angry white women waving “Blacks for Trump” signs. Would it help if we converted the video of these people shouting racist abuse to grainy black-and-white? Or put a scratchy, old-timey audio effect on them shouting the Nazi slur "Lugenpresse" at journalists? Or remind you that you’re about to put your future in the hands of a man who, whilst openly knowing nothing of the science of climate change, wants to rip up the Paris Agreement and drill for oil in Antarctica?
Now will you vote? Pleeease?
By the way, by “You,” I’m not primarily addressing that subgroup of millennials who are planning to vote for Trump; who will support him WHATEVER THE HELL HE DOES. Maybe you happen to be reading this because you’re visiting your gay-ass liberal white brother in Los Angeles (the one who called his son Nurture and offered you a kale smoothie for breakfast). You’ve gone on his computer and stumbled on this piece. Hi. Nice to meet you. You’re angry, white, you’re understandably hurting and you think Trump cares about you. And even if he turns out to be the reanimated corpse of Osama Bin Laden in an old Donald Trump Halloween mask, you’re voting for him. I can shout all I want that THIS MAN IS NOT YOUR FRIEND, but you’ve put your fingers in your ears and are going to be singing, "La la la la la Lock her up!" right up until Election Day.
But to the rest of you I say: The monster has almost reached the city, and it really wants those nukes. And if you're still planning on not voting, for any of the reasons above, please know this: By not voting for Clinton, you are voting for the monster.
Imagine, every day for the next four years (assuming that period isn’t curtailed*), hearing a variation on “Today President Trump… .” Seriously, is there any sentence beginning that way that doesn’t make you shudder? “President Trump said… .” “At a meeting today with Angela Merkel, President Trump grabbed… .” Even “President Trump today pardoned a Thanksgiving turkey” is traumatizing. And given how he likes to rip up the rulebook, it’s more likely to be “President Trump winked at the camera, then shouted, ‘You’re fired!’ at both turkeys, before decapitating each bird. He then watched the animals run headless around the Oval Office, blood spraying the carpets, statues and himself. Catching one of the turkeys, the president unzipped his pants and made love to it, while forcing the other bird’s headless, spurting neck into his own anus. Having ejaculated, President Trump used fresh hot turkey blood mixed with his own semen to write, 'I’ve never paid a cent of tax and of course I assaulted all of those bitches, you f—s. Gonna impeach me, derp? Try it. I’ll NUKE YOUR FAT UGLY ASS!' At which point, countless Americans cheered at the screen, saying, 'Now that’s a guy I could have a beer with… .'" (*Nukes nukes nukes nukes nukes nukes)
"President Trump." Just say those words quietly to yourself. The most dangerous kind of idiot, the one who would have screamed prematurely at the Chicago Cubs game from the armchair of his sweaty man cave that he could play better than all them assholes combined, despite having a heart stent paid for by Obamacare. That moron — but now he owns the team, has given each player a nuke and now, just as the Cubs are about to make history…BOOM!
Be afraid. Be very afraid. Imagine this man in the Trump Armageddon — previously known as the White House — in January. Imagine Lennon’s "Imagine," but with all the nice sentiments about everyone living life in peace, replaced by words of division, hatred and cooking your cat in your basement, over a burning Bernie Sanders bumper sticker, as your face peels off.
Please vote. Even if some bastard tries to stop you, like North Carolina Republicans did to Grace Hardison, the 100-year-old African-American whose voter registration was challenged despite her living in the same place her whole life. Vote, even if there’s a wannabe American Sniper turd in a Duck Dynasty hat patrolling your polling station with his gun, accusing you of voting 11 times or being dead, or both.
This isn’t the time to register your silent protest. It’s maybe not even the time to be right. When the ship is threatening to sink, you don’t have a choice of lifeboats. Maybe Bernie Sanders was the closest you’ll ever get to the candidate you approve of and when he quit the race, so did you. But a) he didn’t win, b) He’s With Her and c) He’s going to be in power, too.
Friend, your country needs you, your world needs you. Your future needs you.
Vote for Hillary Clinton. Vote vote vote vote vote. Vote in your Halloween Deadpool costume if it helps you feel ironic and above all this bullshit; do it dressed as Simone Biles, Hodor, Walter White or BB-8. Vote in a clown outfit while luring other millennials into the woods. Vote dressed as Trump, shouting, as your pen hits the ballot, “Look, everyone, I’m grabbing Hillary’s box!” Yes, lame but a lame vote for Hillary. Google "Polling Booth Glory Holes" to see if you can develop an anonymous voting/sex fetish. If you’re one of the nine people still playing Pokemon Go, see if any polling places are also Pokestops. Vote your socks off. Vote all over my willing Welsh face.
Donald Trump is real. But so is Hillary Clinton. Vote for her on Tuesday. Make Trump Fake Again.
Peter Baynham is a film and television writer/producer who is voting for Hillary Clinton.